Teenage mother given a second chance in life
Photo credited by Fambul Welbodi team
By Ramatu Jalloh
Isatu Barrie is an 18 year old young mother from a slum community in Aberdeen, Freetown. She is a beneficiary of the Fambul Welbodi project aimed at contributing to a decrease in teenage pregnancy rates in selected vulnerable communities located in the Western Area urban district. In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Ministry of Education the project provides access to education or vocational training for out of school young mothers. Other component of the project include access to adolescent friendly sexual reproductive health services and basic life skills and parenting training to increase young mothers knowledge and provide them the necessary skills they require to make better life choices.
Isatu is one of the brightest students in her tailoring course. She sews clothes for children and adults which she sells. She uses the profits to buy material and contribute to the VSLA scheme which was set up as a scheme to support the young mothers in her community.
This is Isatu’s story:
“I was a student going to school under the care of my “Toma” (a name sake chosen by the family as direct caregiver for Isatu). She sold cookery. I was attending school but she would not pay my school fees. I was to sit BECE (Basic Education Certificate Examination) in 2015 but she did not pay…..under her care I was obedient…another opportunity came for me to sit BECE in 2016 but again she refused to pay. So I continued to help her sell cookery. Whenever I did something [she was not happy with] she would drive out. Since I had nowhere to sleep… I had no choice but to stay over at a boy [I was seeing] ….eventually I fell pregnant. Then she drove me out of her house…my dad heard that I was pregnant and also abandoned me. The boy I fell pregnant for did not care for me.
My mum [who was living somewhere else] took me in, but my dad said that I should not stay with her because I was pregnant……so we both had to leave where she was staying [In Kabala, a district in the north]. Mum called my sister in Freetown. She rented a place for us in Portee but I did not feel right there (too isolated)…I eventually moved to my mum in Aberdeen.
After giving birth I heard that Save the Children were helping teenagers that have had children. They chose about 40 of us and according to our story 20 of us were successful. At that time I was 16 years old. They then asked me what I wanted to do. I said I would not be able to continue school, that I wanted to do tailoring ….they paid for my training to Pa Marah. I am there now
How she has changed since joining the project….
Some people used to say that I would never make it…that Save the Children was wasting their money. But I persisted and believed I would succeed. In the first week [of the tailoring course] I learned how to use the peddle [on the sewing machine], the next day started joining clothes. In 1 month I started cutting children’s clothes….some people were amazed at my progress… they started saying that maybe I had done this before…..but I was just determined. The next month I started cutting and sewing for my child. Now I cut and sew clothes for other people…
I am happy because Save the Children has helped me a lot. I now know about family planning, menstrual hygiene and even about self-esteem.
I would like Save the Children to continue supporting the girls on this project….maybe even help our parents. Like my mother for example, she sells but the business she has is small…if they can help her increase her business, she will be able to help me out when necessary.